Nordic Europe

Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark
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Estonia. On their wedding day, young couples of Russian origin come to this bridge to follow a tradition: they attach a lock engraved with their names on this bridge, and together throw away the key. Quite a symbol there, don't you think?


Kirkkonummi, Finland. This Prisma supermarket offers its shoppers a "left-luggage" service... for pets!
Helsinki, Finland. A sight which blends tradition with modernity represented here by the cap bearing the name of a high-tech company... A way of saying hello to ex-colleagues and acquaintances from the software industry.
Rauma, Finland. A jazzband on the market square on a Sunday morning. Why do all these young ladies wear stockings under their socks, in summertime?
Kristinankaupunki, Western Finland. How to watch out of one's own window in wintertime without getting cold? This "horizontal periscope" is the answer to street peeping, an especially interesting activity when one lives next door to "cat whipper lane"!
Kalajoki, Finland.
The sign says "clothes shop"...
Finland. No, this is not a sight from "Terminator 1", but just a crane to pick up felled trees. Parked temporarily next to forests, these cranes await the trucks on which they are mounted.
Finland. In this country, nature lovers are welcome to use freely such cabins, which are built and maintained everywhere, offering shelter for the night, a firepit, and dry toilets seen on the left of photo. On the right, a wood stack, regularly provided by the local community. The bottom frame shows a frequent design: an adjustable shelf, a bar on which can be rested wood skewers for "makkara", the local sausages eaten with rye bread and a beer.
Danger, moose crossing.
The Nordics. These poles on parking lots indicate a reserved spot, combined with another function: they include an electric plug for car heating purposes, allowing them to start up, even at -40°C.
The Nordics. How to keep on practising cross country skiing in the summertime? On the street, on skis equipped with wheels.
Norway. These Icelandic horses have 5 different steps. In addition to walk and gallop, they learned how to trot, pace and tolt.
In this Dutch bus, the bedrooms are on the second floor. On the first floor, the front part of the bus recalls the roomy business class section of an airplane, while the back ressembles the interior of a sailboat: a table in teck wood, a kitchenette, a restroom and shower. A ship for cruising on the road!

Havredal, Denmark, 200 inhabitants, 1 sex shop.
Cool beer, mailbox, coke, ice cream cones or lollipops, toys for adults... one stop-shopping! Convenient, isn't it?

In Norway, even gas stations will often be decorated with flowers. An original flower pot here, and a good idea for recycling old tires!

Château du Fjord ®, the red wine from Denmark!
What a surprise for two French people to find locally produced wine in Højslev, in Danish Jutland near the town of Skive ! Sven welcomes us with a glass of red wine from his personal vinyard, and as we examine and taste it, watches us with keen attention. A beautiful deep red, a combination of well balanced flavors, this young wine could make blush with jealousy a number of Beaujolais nouveaux. To our amazement, Sven has just destroyed the general conception that there is in Europe a cultural border between wine and beer country. .. or at least that its border is situated much further North than Brussels ! And so, not just because our Eurocrats, a few years ago, alloted a wine production quota to Denmark, a fact we had never heard about.
We immediately go for a walk to Sven's vinyard. First planted in 2000 , he began his wine production in 2002. In spite of a catastrophic weather in 2004, Sven managed to produce 50 liters, 2% of which we just drank. We marvel at his Nordic determination in fighting such serious handicaps : long Winter freezing period, short Summers, strong winds, an unwelcoming soil composed of a one meter ldeep layer of sand with oyster and mussel shells, with clay underneath.
That's alright with Sven : he firstly carefully testes different grapes and opted for Rondo, which proved to both resist the cold and mature rapidly ; he built a protective tree fence around his beloved plants ; he mixed hay and sheep dung to both insulate his plants and enrich the soil around them. And he is rightly proud to add that he has avoided all chemicals in the process.
In June 2005, he already has 400 plants. Although he hopes to produce 500 liters of wine by 2008, this is not a business to Sven, it is a passion, which he loves to share with friends. A good present to put under the Xmas tree ? What a coincidence, Sven's business is to grow Xmas trees ! (*)
So forget about finding Chateau du Fjord ® at your favorite wine shop, his production will remain for the privileged only. We will let his 2004 production age a bit and come back in a few years time. Let's hope there is some left when we return !
(*) Sven Fenger, is a the founder and manager of a consultancy firm specialized in forestry
"Fenger Forst Service" www.fenger-forst.dk. He also runs his own forestry business in Xmas trees.
Old houses. Summer homes or cabins often have their roofs covered with a thick layer of vegetation to provide insulation. Grass grows well on them, but sometimes flowers and even bushes develop! In the early middle ages, Vikings settled in French Normandy and may have brought with them this technique, which would account for the typical hay-covered roofs in this region.